Ditch the Junk for Lent: A 40 Day Challenge
Today, for Christians around the world, is the first day of Lent. A 40 day/40 night period between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Traditionally, an individual will pick up something to give up for Lent (and hopefully stick with giving that up after Lent is over). For me, this year, I’m resolving to ditch the junk for Lent. And by junk, I mean anything that isn’t healthy or useful in my life. This applies to food, clutter, items that I’ve been holding on to for whatever reason or another… you name it. As a family we’re taking steps this year to detoxify and with Lent here, I think that this is a perfect time to becoming really proactive about it.
During this 40 day period I’ll be evaluating parts of my life where I can make changes and ditch the junk for Lent. I also invite you to join me in this challenge. Every week, I’ll focus on a different area and set realistic goals and take steps to ditch the junk for good.
First, why don’t you download your workbook:
>>>> Ditch the Junk for Lent Workbook <<<<
In this workbook, you’ll find either a 6 area focus or 4 area focus plan with simple steps (7 or 10 depending on which you choose) so you can ditch the junk for Lent. Towards the end of the challenge, I’ll have a new workbook that focuses on keeping up with the changes that you’re making. More free printables will also be added throughout this challenge and several e-mails will be sent out for subscribers only, so be sure to subscribe for updates!
For my first focus area in my ditch the junk challenge, I’m working on ditching junk food.
I know I’ve said it before, but eating healthier is really one of the most important steps when you want to start living a healthier lifestyle. It all begins with baby steps though so don’t think it’s something you can do overnight. Start small. One way you can begin is by ditching the junk food from your diet.
Why is it important to ditch the junk food?
Just as the name suggests junk food is junk.
- Empty calories
- Leads to water retention
Junk food is full of calories that do absolutely nothing for your body. These are called empty calories because they have no or very little nutritional value. The truth is that most of these calories come from sugar and fats and they will do nothing but increase weight and body fat.
Junk food can also cause you to retain water which will make you feel bloated and sluggish. This causes you to feel tired instead of having the energy to get up and move around. The long term effects of eating junk food can be extreme from causing you to be overweight to causing the clogging of arteries that leads to heart attack.
But junk food tastes so good!
Why do people love junk food? The truth is that our brains have very positive reactions to fatty and sugary foods. It induces “feel good” hormones in the brain that actually mimic the effects of powerful addictive drugs like cocaine and heroin. It is no wonder that we need them.
How many people have cravings for spinach? (… maybe I do from time to time)
But, cravings for ice cream, chips, soda and cookies is a whole other matter. In order to overcome these perilous food addictions, you must retrain your body, change old habits and change tastes. It takes time and effort, but, it can be done.
Honestly, when your body is craving something unhealthy, it’s usually an indication that you’re lacking in another area that could be healthier for you.
Did you know that there are thousands of fitness conscious people who NEVER touch any junk food? Yes it’s really true!
Removing junk food from your diet is an important way to become proactive when it comes to your health.
How To Ditch Junk Food From Your Diet
It starts with some common sense.
Many people say that it is cheaper to eat junk food than it is to eat healthy food. Or they use the excuse that they just don’t like the way healthy food tastes.
First you will have to reprogram your taste buds to get used to eating healthy foods. You have been eating junk food all of your life, this is what your body is used to and what it will crave but it is up to you to retrain your body and your mind to crave healthy foods.
It is not cheaper to eat junk food!
It may take some planning when you are removing junk food from your diet, but, it is possible to eat healthy on the same budget you have right now.
Healthier Substitutions For Junk food
When you remove junk food from your diet you will find that you suffer from cravings. Here are a few substitutions you can use to get past the cravings.
• A square of dark chocolate instead of a chocolate candy bar
• Unsalted pretzels or no butter popcorn instead of chips
• Baked vegetable strips instead of chips
• Raw nuts instead of chips for a crunchy snack
• Plain yogurt with fruit, honey, or nuts instead of ice cream
• Flavored sparkling water instead of soda
• Fresh fruit instead of cake and cookies
• Raisins instead of candy
• Cherries instead of candy
Substituting In Recipes
There are also ways that you can alter your favorite recipes to create a healthier version. For example instead of using butter in your cakes and cookies you can create a healthier version by substituting the butter with apple sauce.
You can also use non-fat plain yogurt instead of sour cream or mayonnaise. If you are a real lover of mayonnaise than try replacing it with avocado on your sandwiches. It has the same texture and you never miss the empty calories of the mayonnaise.
These are just a few things that you can do to remove the junk food from your diet. There are so many other options that you can do, but, rest assured it is possible to remove the junk food from your diet and replace it with much healthier alternatives. This will ensure your good health and the health of your family.
What other ways can you think of to ditch the junk food? Remember this doesn’t mean that you’re going entirely organic, just taking steps to ditch the junk food.
This isn’t an overnight process, but one that takes steps, commitment, and time.
could you be an emotional eater?
Emotional eating is the practice of managing one’s emotions by eating food. Emotional overeating is one of the leading causes of failed diets and weight gain. This can lead to feelings of failure, hopelessness, and a general depression. Unhealthy eating habits often lead to negative physical effects as well so it’s good to know the causes and what to look for.
What causes emotional eating?
Major changes in circumstances, relationships, work dynamics, daily stress, and general feelings of a loss of control can be major factors. For example, a recent break up could drive a person to emotional eating. A sudden change in the demeanor of a formally cordial coworker could leave you feeling alienated, or the daily ebb and flow of lives daily activities could put you in mood where food is thought of as a reward, a way to relieve stress, or way to avoid dealing with emotions surrounding a situation.
How do you detect emotional eating?
There are a few differences between the type of hunger that comes from emotional needs, and that of physical needs. Physical hunger is gradual, and eating fulfills the need for nourishment. When you eat after having been physically hungry, you will most likely feel better or more energized. When the hunger is emotional hunger, eating may not give you the feeling of being filled, which can lead to overeating. At the end of the meal, you might feel tired, or depressed, but there are even more long term effects that can come from emotional eating.
How can emotional eating affect you?
Along with the emotional effects already mentioned, there are a number of health risks associated with emotional eating. It is one of the leading causes of failed diets and weight gain. Weight gain puts a heavy strain on organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver, which can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes. Yet, not only internal organs are at risk. A person who has gained a substantial amount of weight faces an increased risk of joint injuries of all types. A slip or fall could result in a serious injury that requires surgery, and many months of healing, but what is even more frightening is the fact that a lot weight gain could make it more difficult, or even prevent emergency medical teams from being able to respond in an efficient or timely manner.
What can you do?
One of the most commonly used methods of determining the source of hunger is the food test. Ask yourself if you want to eat this food, or if there is something else you can eat instead. You can also try habit replacement. Find something positive to do when you feel stressed out. Exercise, deep breathing, or any stress relieving hobby can go a long way to improving your control.
obvious signs of emotional eating to look for
Food Cravings Appear Out of Nowhere
Physical hunger is most often experienced as gradually intensifying waves signifying that the body requires a form of sustenance. Sometimes it is possible that there is a deficiency of one or more nutrients, but one of the most telling signs of emotional overeating is the sudden, and urgent appearance of food cravings. During these urgent cravings, you are less likely to make healthy food choices, such as fast food, processed snack foods, prepackaged, or otherwise artificial food sources rather than eating healthier traditionally prepared meals.
Your Emotions Drive Your Eating Habits
Mood can affect the speed, and way we eat. Do you sometimes notice that a negative situation can send you running to your car to get a comfort food? In times of intense emotional upheaval, it can easily become a habit to turn to food for emotional management. That cookie or ice cream might feel good during consumption, but it isn’t truly fixing the heart of the issue.
Many people are conditioned from a young age to associate food with some sort of reward or good times. That is part of the reason for certain restaurants to have places for children to play.
You Eat While Stressed
Another big sign that that could show that you are emotionally overeating is that you are eating while stressed. Any changes in life large or small can cause a measure of stress. Deteriorating financial health is considered to be a leading cause of stress in many countries around the world, so it is possible that financial stress could lead to comfort food seeking activity.
Relationships are also a major source of stress due to the tendency for relationships to experience inevitable changes in dynamics. This could be anything from romantic relationships to work relationships. People tend to expect routine, so when relationship changes occur, one or both people can be thrown into a state of uncertainty.
You Keep Eating Past Being Full
One of the most serious of the signs of emotional overeating, is eating past being full. This is when the need to fill the emotional void exceeds the body’s natural feeling of fullness. It can manifest itself in joyless eating, which is eating on autopilot. During this period you might consume empty calories so quickly that you don’t even taste the food. You may also find yourself forcing the second half of a meal you could have saved for later, or buying additional snack foods that you will be tempted to eat prematurely. Part of the serious nature of this habit, is that it is a primary mechanism that makes weight gain and other health issues a possibility.
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We are semi-catholics. We go to church, sometimes, and do not celebrate lent or no meat on Fridays. Sometimes I think I should, but I always forget.
Ok Kori, Iam going to attempt to join you. No junk food for a week. Sugars are going to be hard to let go!
This sounds like a great idea. I know I should be doing the same. I appreciate you sharing this great article. I know I eat alot of junk and there is alot of stuff around my home I could be getting rid of
We have been trying to eat clean since January, and have been pretty successful. We allow ourselves one cheat meal a week, which has been great! We see how we feel after that meal compared with others. Thank you!
Sounds like a great idea! We arent religious or anything at all so we never do anything like this. Would love to start though, maybe.
I could stand to get rid of some junk, both from my diet and from my house. Having replacements in your diet is a great idea!
This really sounds like a realistic goal for me this Lent. I will have to give up the junk!
This might explain why I seem to be addicted to peanut butter cups! I am going to try this and I’m sure I will feel better if I can stick to it. Thanks for the great substitute ideas too, Kori.
I wish I could do this right now. But since Valentine’s Day, I have been sneaking in the chocolate. Otherwise we eat pretty healthy all month long.
I have always seen Lent as such a positive and inspiring time. People work so hard to achieve a goal.
My boyfriend and I were talking about giving something up. I think it’s just a good idea in general to rid yourself of things you don’t really need.
I gave up junk food months ago and I feel a lot better!
As Catholics, we don’t eat meat on Fridays. There’s more fasting when Lenten season comes.
I’ve been trying to ditch the junk for more than just Lent! The past week I’ve eliminated soda and have only been drinking water. I still had donuts for breakfast this morning to celebrate the holidays, gotta start somewhere though!
Great workbook you offered – and what a challenge – I can’t eat sugar, took dairy products out 2 mths ago (lost 3 inches right away) and now am loosing a pound a week just eating smaller servings of healthier stuff – but also getting rid of the junk in my closets! You post fits right in = very informative and motivating
I don’t really partake in Lent, but I will pray that grow spiritually during your “lent” “Lengthen period. Getting rid of the junk and focusing on Jesus is an awesome way to prepare for the celebration of the death and resurrection.
Instead of ditching junk food all together I am making an effort to at least cut down on it. That in of itself will be quite the challenge for me.
I’m a catholic but I really struggle with Lent. I really need to make a conscious effort to give up chocolate this year.
I always feel so much better when I forego the junk. If I eat anything sugary after a decent amount of time healthy-eating, I just feel sluggish and quick! What you eat really does matter.
Ahhh good luck!!! Junk is such a hard one to give up completely.im a pretty healthy eater but junk is always what I reward myself with lol
I don’t go through with lent, but I do believe that giving up junk food is a great way to detoxify the body as well. The printable is a really great way to keep organized too.
Love this idea for Lent! We could all use with a little (ok, a lot) less junk in our lives!
We don’t do Lent but if I did I think ditching the junk is a great option!
That is crazy how we crave the junk and not the good stuff (well, maybe with the exception of fruit). I applaud you for your choice, and wish you strength in sticking with it. I like a lot of your suggestions for substitutions…and now I am craving cherries.
We are ditching the junk for lent too, we love doing it. Great suggestions, will have to use some of these.
I am not much of a junk food person. I just grab some sometimes when the cravings hit me – like chips or cookies. But no soda at all. Even my husband and our son don’t drink soda.
Great post! Love the ideas! I was actually thinking this was another post about decluttering our houses, but was pleasantly surprised to see it was about ditching the junk from our bodies–and that’s exciting! Look forward to joining you!
Picking junk food for lent is such a great one. It will for sure help you in the long run!
Oh I can get into this! I’ve been really working to clean up my diet so this is perfect timing!
I wish you the best of luck with your Lent goals. These are my all year goals, ditching junk, food and anything that is a waste of time.
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